Rushden & Diamonds1 Chester City 1

 

Rushden and Diamonds earned another point to continue their unbeaten start to the season against Chester City, at Nene Park.

Just like in the opening day draw with Darlington, the Diamonds were forced to come from behind to equalise and did so soon after Chester had opened the scoring on 55 minutes through Ryan Lowe with young Leicester City striker Chris O’Grady levelling superbly six minutes later.

Both sides came into the game having enjoyed an unbeaten start to the season and also both enforced to endure a matchless weekend last time round having had games postponed.

Diamonds Manager Barry Hunter faced a selection poser with Dave Savage fit again in Midfield whilst youngster Chris O’Grady added to the options upfront following his loan signing from Leicester City.Hunter left Ashley Nicholls on the bench in favour of Savage whilst O’Grady was on the bench with Daniel Chillingworth and Greg Pearson preferred upfront.

Chester made two changes to the line-up fielded in the last game against Lincoln City as Luke Dimech and Tom Curtis were dropped to the bench in favour of David Artell and Justin Walker.

Diamonds shaded the better of the chances in a tight first half and started the game brightly.In the opening minute Chillingworth’s header down found Pearson to set up David Bell who blazed a shot across the face of Chris Mackenzie’s goal.Four minutes later Bell’s cross from the right found Savage who could only head weakly into the keeper’s hands from close range.

Mackenzie had to save at the second attempt to deny a low Chillingworth strike before Chester forced their first real chance when Ben Davies tested Jamie Young infront of the Peter De Banke terrace, after 14 minutes.

Savage worked his way into the book following a tough tackle on Justin Walker after 17 minutes.Three minutes later Chester came close when Scott McNiven broke free of Marcus Kelly before chipping the ball toward goal, from the edge of the box, however the shot went narrowly over the crossbar.

Neil McCafferty played a part in some good moves in the opening period, one of which saw his header feed Bell who advanced forward before striking narrowly wide of the far right post, on 28 minutes.

Three minutes later McCafferty’s hassling of Davies allowed him to break free before playing a good ball across to Chillingworth who took a touch too many with the goal at his mercy.

Justin Walker and Carl Regan both received yellow cards for an accumulation of fouls on 39 and 42 minutes respectively for Chester, Walker’s booking coming after he hacked down Savage from behind.

Diamonds had one final chance as the first half came to a close when Bell ran well and held the ball up superbly before noting Chillingworth’s good run and crossing, however with the goal at his mercy Chillingworth glanced his header wide of the far post.

Bell scooped horribly wide after a fine run from Kelly at the start of the second half before Pearson’s turn and shot went narrowly wide of the left post on 49 minutes.

Chester saw Scott McNiven’s shot deflected over the bar for a corner on 54 minutes, from which came the opening goal of the game.Walker played the ball short before it was launched into the box where David Artell headed back to the unmarked Ryan Lowe who fired past a helpless Young.

In response to the goal Diamonds brought off Savage to be replaced by O’Grady, forcing Greg Pearson to the right of midfield with Kelly moving to the left and Bell moving into the centre.

O’Grady made an instant impact on the game as, just like against Darlington on the opening game of the season, Diamonds produced a fine response to going behind by levelling.Chillingworth passed to O’Grady who shot sharply on the turn, a yard into the box, past Mackenzie into the far corner of the net, after 61 minutes.

Diamonds brought on Jason Taylor after 64 minutes for Chillingworth whilst Chester made their first change of the game when they took off the influential Justin Walker to be replaced by Tom Curtis on 69 minutes.

Taylor struck straight at Mackenzie from a matter of yards on 77 minutes whilst two minutes later Marcus Richardson became the third Chester player to be booked for persistent fouling whilst O’Grady was harshly booked for a foul on Artell after 80 minutes.

McCafferty hit the ball hard and low from 20 yards, but straight at the keeper with five minutes remaining before another Chester change saw Richardson replaced by Sean Hessey.

Late on Chester could have stolen all three points when Davies cross into the box from the left found Lowe who saw his clear shot go narrowly wide, after 87 minutes.

There was still time for Lowe to be sent off for foul and abusive language whilst Pearson was booked for the Diamonds.Despite the bookings though this was hardly a dirty game, with few real bad tackles.

All in all this was a fair result for both teams, and for Diamonds plenty of encouragement was given from their new loan stiker O’Grady whose goal on his debut forces him very much into Hunter’s plans in the coming weeks.

TEAMS:

Rushden and Diamonds:

Young, Gulliver, Hawkins, Allen, Gier, Savage (O’Grady 58), Pearson, Bell, Chillingworth (Taylor 64), McCafferty, Kelly.Subs not used: Woodman, Dempster, Nicholls.

Chester City:

Mackenzie, Regan, Bolland, Drummons, Branch, Lowe, Davies, Artell, McNiven, Richardson (Hessey 86), Walker (Curtis 69).Subs not used: Vaughan,Dimech, Brookfield.

Referee: Mr Deadman

Goals: Lowe 55, O’Grady 61

Bookings: Savage 17 (foul), Walker 39, Regan 42, Richardson 79 (accumulation of fouls), O’Grady 80 (foul), Pearson 90 (persistent fouling).

Sent off: Lowe 89 (foul and abusive language)

Attendance: 2682 (341 away)

Diamonds Man of the Match: Neil McCafferty

Match Report by Rich Beeby

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